How To: Count Macros on the Go

After my last very brief post, a few people reached out to me and asked me for tips on tracking macros while traveling. IMG_4061

While I wasn't perfect on the road, I did do many things that kept me on track as I cut for my competition.

I probably could have skipped the Mai Tais in Hawaii... but that wouldn't be any fun now would it?

So here are my top tips for staying on track...

1. Plan Ahead

Plan your days ahead as much as possible. Research restaurants and grocery stores near where you'll be staying and see what's available to you. You can also bring certain things with you - personally I like to bring ziploc bags of protein powder, oatmeal, and then basics like individual peanut butter and tuna packets. This isn't totally necessary, but can save a lot of time and money.

My makeshift kitchen in Hawaii

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2. Master the Grocery Store

Google maps makes it easy to find nearby grocery stores. If you have no kitchen in your hotel room (we didn't in Hawaii), find staples that can be made with hot water from the coffee maker, and if possible request an empty fridge in your room. The key is to buy things you can easily track in MyFitnessPal with a basic entry or barcode scan. I like portion controlled food because it saves me from myself (I will inhale a bag of trail mix before I realize it's 600 calories and triple my fat allowance for the day). Things I like to buy:

  • Pre-hard boiled eggs
  • Tuna packets
  • Tuna and bean salads
  • Oatmeal
  • Protein bars
  • Greek yogurt
  • Pre-portioned packs of nuts or nut butter
  • Vegetable packs
  • Chocolate milk (hey, it's a great recovery drink!)
  • Giant water jugs to make sure I stay hydrated

Road snacks Gillian style

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3. Overestimate When Eating Out

I'm always shocked when I look at the calorie content of restaurant items. They tend to be very high because let's be real, butter and oil make everything delicious. When possible, try to plan your delicious meals out ahead of time and plan the rest of your day around this. Even before I tracked macros, my general rule of thumb was to eat light protein all day to bank for a good dinner.

If the restaurant you're going to has nutritional information listed online, use that, or MyFitnesspal to enter it in before you go. Otherwise, look up individual items from a dish on the menu (most restaurants have menus online) and overestimate everything. For example, if you're going to have salmon and potatoes, enter a potion and a half of each, and add in 2 tablespoons of oil separately to be safe. It's still risky, but will give you a good idea on how to bank your macros for the rest of the day. When possible, stick to items that are raw - sashimi, ceviche, grilled, steamed, have no sauce or a light sauce. You can also request this at a restaurant. Cream sauces and salad dressings in general pack a TON of hidden calories, so if you can live without them. do so.

If you have no idea where you'll be eating, you can always plug in a higher calorie generic restaurant meal ahead of time to be safe, or just be really fussy with your ordering when you go. (It's also ok to take a night off every now and then.)

4. Be a Social Butterfly, But Don't Try to Please Everyone

One of the hardest parts for me about dieting is trying not to please everyone. I will generally go out of my way to make people comfortable, and sometimes that means saying yes to dessert, or a glass of wine that is poured, when I don't necessarily want or need it. But this doesn't get me closer to my goals. So I've learned to be very open with people about my goals, to say no twice if needed, and to find ways to still have a good time and share delicious things without going ham. In the past few weeks we were travelling with a large group in Hawaii and LA, and I did my best to stick to smart choices like vodka soda if we were out, and to always have snacks on hand. I also learned that if you're open with people about your goals in a non-defensive way, they're usually very curious and supportive.

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Crazy water girl

Now when it comes to tracking alcohol in your macros you want to be careful. Alcohol is metabolized slightly differently by the body than any other macronutrient. It has 7 calories per gram and should be tracked. Excessive consumption may stall progress, but in moderation, as long as you stay within your calorie/macro target, it is fine. I like to count alcohol as a carb, and have it entered in 'My Meals' manually on MyFitnesspal. To calculate alcohol as a carb- take the number of calories of alcohol you will consume and divide that by 4 to get the grams of carbs to count.

You can also calculate alcohol as a fat, although personally I don't like this approach since it's more like a sugar, and take the number of calories of alcohol you will consume and divide that by 9 to get the grams of fat to count.

5. Get Sweaty

One of my favourite parts of travelling is working out! I know that sounds crazy, but it's so much fun getting creative with exercise somewhere new. I like to find local gyms, hikes, and sneak out for morning runs. It's another fantastic way to get acquainted with a place and explore. If you push yourself a little harder than you might at home, that extra glass of wine or two won't hurt your progress as much.

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6. Accept Imperfection

It's kind of impossible to be perfect while travelling. And if you are - you're going to be a pain in the butt (I refuse to bring my food scale into a restaurant). While counting macros is most successful when you're meticulous, it can get obsessive. My goal is always to be stubborn about my goals but flexible in my methods - life is too short not to drink a cocktail by the pool.

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I hope that helps! Please feel free to ask any questions in the comment section.

x

Gillian

Competitor Series: On Prep While Traveling

Holy smokes guys I'm 5 weeks out! IMG_4417

I apologize for the big delay in posting. Since I last wrote a lot has happened, including a trip to Hawaii, home to Vancouver for 12 hours, then back to Carmel, a road trip to LA and back again.

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I'm going to keep it brief since we're about to run out again to go stay at another friend's house (my head is spinning), but wanted to update you on my progress.

I have begun the serious part of my prep amongst this madness, with some highs and lows. I did mostly really well in Hawaii, carrying around my gallon of water, eating lots of fresh fish, getting some seriously sweaty workouts in, and only cheating with the occasional Mai Tai.

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I find it really hard to travel with a group and stick to a strict diet, so I counted my macros where possible and made adjustments where necessary.

The last few weeks of this prep have been nowhere near perfect, but I'm making it work.

In LA I had the opportunity to get in a real posing class with IFBB Pro Bikini Athlete Lisette Howard, and even got to workout with IFBB Pro Bodybuilder Big Will Harris at The Mecca of bodybuilding, Gold's Gym Venice. Both gave me some great tips and words of encouragement.

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I am in awe of all the cool places this experience is taking me, and working so closely with a couple of pros definitely stirred up my passion for bodybuilding. I even spotted Arnold leaving Gold's as I went in for my workout!

Meanwhile I'm very aware that I've got a lot of work, posing practice, and hard dieting to do over the next 5 weeks to get on stage.

I'll keep you posted on the journey!

Til next time,

Gillian

California Love Continued

Long distance is hard. Before leaving I already know the visit will be too short. I'm already heartbroken because I've spent the week researching the realities of moving down to California and the work and cost involved are beyond what I could have imagined.

But I board the full plane to Seattle, my first stopover, and take a deep breath.

In Seattle I decide I need a little splurge. This weekend is about love, and that means self love too. So I go for a 15 minute seated massage and then take myself on a wine tasting date.

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I sip slowly. I laugh with the waiters. I read the descriptions then swirl each sip in my mouth and pause. I amuse myself. I think the man across from me is watching in amusement too.

And then, at last, California. My love. Waiting for me in his Canadian Roots sweatshirt and a smile. I am tired, he is kind; his hand feels good in mine.

Back at his place he gifts me a photo frame full of silly pictures of us and I'm touched. It's the perfect gift. We sleep well and warmly, do a couples workout at Gold's Gym, and then head to downtown San Jose to the Fairmont for our mini Valentines getaway.

To our surprise, we are upgraded to a large suite and have a chilled bottle of bubbly waiting for us. I think all of my heartache from our time apart melts away in the first glass.

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One of the struggles with a long distance relationship is that even when we're together it can be hard to get alone time or our own space. I've started making more of an effort to plan these mini retreats, something I hope to do throughout our whole relationship when life gets ahead of us.

This one could not have been a more luxurious retreat. It was the biggest room we've ever stayed in. Needless to say, we were happy.

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As much as we wanted to go and explore, it was hard to leave our fortress. So we took our time drinking the bubbly left in the room, and eventually, switched to slightly dressier attire.

(Dress is from Lulus.com - bought for the occasion!)

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Once we were all spruced up we headed to my favourite place in San Jose - San Pedro Square Market!

The park across from the hotel had fairy lights strung through it, adding to the romance of our walk over.

There, we started our feast with a glass of wine and a beautiful cheese plate at Vino Vino, teasing our senses with the combination of sweet, spicy, and pungent.

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We followed our appetizer with a hearty dinner at The Farmer's Union before walking back to the hotel and retiring to our suite.

The next day I snuck out of the room early while Derek slept and went for a swim. When I returned, refreshed, we walked in the sunshine to Philz coffee.

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I wore red, and kids with roses whizzed past on on skateboards while a violinist played outside. Philz is one of the coolest coffee joints I've ever been to. They specialize in REALLY good drip coffee, with baristas lined up next to each other, and add cardamon and mint to certain brews. I got a Turkish brew with a mint leave and a splash of cream and was blown away.

Of course I requested a tour of the Winchester Mystery House on Valentine's day. This house was in constant construction for 38 years, with stairs and doors leading nowhere to confuse the ghosts of the Winchester rifle magnate widow. Of course, it is said to be haunted.

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Happily haunted we started to make our way to Carmel. With grumbling bellies we pulled into Moss Landing en route, only to find Phil's Fish Market and Eatery  had over an hour line-up.

Luckily we found Moss Landing Cafe nearby, and tucked into some comfort seafood dishes to keep us happy for the rest of our drive.

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In Carmel we cooked a decadent Valentines feast for our extended Carmel family - Derek's family, the neighbours, and some dear friends of ours. No pictures were taken, but my mama's recipe for chicken in cream and wine sauce was eaten, poetry was read, pink bubbly was poured, and I felt deeply loved and appreciated.

The next day, the sun shone even brighter, and I did not feel ready to go. We walked around, ate sushi on the pier, and talked about life and what was ahead of us.

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We drove back to San Jose airport the sun still shining, stopping for garlic ice cream in Gilroy (apologies to my airplane companions), music blasting as we passed all the fields and farms, and then once again, it was time to say goodbye.

I didn't cry this time. He is coming to visit soon, for a longer period of time, and I know we'll figure this whole thing out.

You can't hurry love and you can't stop it either.